Packing is an essential part of travel, and surprisingly, how you pack can have a lot of influence on how much you enjoy your trip. Have you ever traveled with the person who is bogged down with three different bags packed to the brim? It certainly doesn’t make crossing the globe any easier. How about the person who didn’t bring a coat to a cooler climate and is either having to buy something last minute or borrow from others? Don’t let this be you.
There is a delicate balance between packing light and having the things that you need. Here are a few tips to help you achieve that balance on your upcoming trip.
1. Use a capsule wardrobe.
A capsule wardrobe is a selection of clothing pieces that go well together so you can mix and match. For example, bring two pairs of pants that match all your tops, or a long sleeve shirt you can wear over all of your short-sleeved shirts. Bring accessories you can re-purpose, such as a scarf that can be used as a blanket on the plane or shoes that you can wear with all your outfits. Bring comfortable, loose clothing that you don’t mind spending the whole day in. Avoid white clothing, which can get stained easily.
2. Use travel sized bottles for your toiletries and pack them in a compact travel pouch.
There is no sense in bringing your full-sized shampoo bottles. Bring only what you need in small plastic containers. One handy tip to keep them from leaking is to put a small square of plastic wrap over the mouth of the bottle, then screw on the top. This will keep your bottles from leaking. Putting them in a pouch will keep them together so you can find them quickly when you need them. Pro tip: Include a small spray bottle of Febreze to keep clothing smelling fresh throughout the trip.
3. Leave towels, bedding or bulky items at home.
All the hotels where we will stay will provide bedding and towels. There’s no sense in filling your suitcase with literal fluff. A sarong or camping towel is a nice light alternative for cases when you might need a towel in between stops. But if you don’t want to even bother with that, you will probably get by without. Some hotels in Europe do not provide washcloths, so if you use one regularly that would also be a packable option to bring.
4. Bring one jacket and several layers.
Some of our destinations can be cooler at night or rainy. A jacket, especially one that doubles as a rain jacket, is crucial. Even for warmer destinations, it often cools at night or gets cold on the plane, so you will be glad you have something warmer. You can use combinations of lighter layers to make the jacket warmer or cooler.
5. Roll your clothes instead of folding them when you pack.
Rolling clothes will take up less space in your suitcase than folding. You can further save space by putting items in compression bags or gallon-sized plastic bags and squeezing out the air. This has the side benefit of keeping clean clothes fresher as you are traveling. Just be mindful that airlines restrict the weight of your checked bag generally to 50 pounds or less.
6. Leave valuables at home.
There is a lot you can live without for two weeks. Plus, why add the stress of having to worry about an expensive item or be looking for a safe at every hotel? You will likely be distracted and not as attentive to your valuables. We would hate for you to have anything stolen or misplaced. If you don’t absolutely need it, leave it at home.
7. Bring a pair of comfortable walking shoes and a pair of sandals.
You will be on your feet a lot during our tours, so a good set of shoes is essential. Sandals can be used for dressier occasions, leisure time, and swimming. You’ll be thankful for comfortable walking shoes on long days when our tours take you to places that require lots of walking. Make sure you break them in before your trip if they are new to avoid blisters on your vacation.
8. Pack a small backpack.
One small backpack is great for carrying daily items you might need on your trip, such as a water bottle, wallet, sunscreen, medications or hand sanitizer. It can also double as your carry-on bag, so you can skip an extra bag roller or duffle. A backpack is also more comfortable during long walks than shoulder bags and more maneuverable than a rolling suitcase.
Did we mention you should pack light?
It is a pain to haul a suitcase up and down stairs, in and out of airports, and to and from stops. Our tours often move from hotel to hotel. Think how much time you will waste on your trip gathering your things up and repacking every few days. The more you have, the more likely you are to leave things behind. Trying to keep track of multiple bags, especially in a group, can be tricky during transfers. The general rule of thumb is to lay out everything you think you will need, then put away half of it. There is so much to see and experience; why spend your precious time worrying about all your stuff when you could be enjoying your new surroundings? For more tips on trip preparation, check out our FAQs.